Best-selling author Walter Isaacson stunned tech observers 10 years ago with a bombshell biography of late Apple (AAPL) CEO Steve Jobs, one of the pioneers of what Isaacson calls the “digital revolution.”
This week, Isaacson released a new book centered on gene editing and what he terms the “biotech revolution,” which he tells Yahoo Finance “will be even bigger” than the digital revolution that came before it.
In a new interview, Isaacson explains how doctors already use gene-editing technology to cure some genetic diseases like sickle cell anemia. Moreover, he predicts that “within a few decades” the tool will not only cure disease and modify physical attributes but also enhance complex features of an individual’s identity, such as memory and intelligence.
“Eventually, we’ll be able to edit things that have multiple genes. Then we really get into a brave new world,” says Isaacson, whose new book is entitled “The Code Breaker: Jennifer Doudna, Gene Editing, and the Future of the Human Race.”
“Some of those traits will be relatively easy to add, such as muscle mass [which] is something that’s a pretty simply regulated by simple set of genes,” he says. “Eventually more complex things, we can probably add things like hair color, eye color, height, and eventually things like memory.”
“Of course, down the road a few decades from now, even general intelligence we will be able to tweak things so that you know it will help maybe boost a few IQ points,” he adds “That’s in the realm of science fiction, but like all good science fiction, some of it has come true already.”
CRISPR technology, often dubbed “genetic scissors,” allows scientists to edit the genome of complex organisms like animals or humans with precision. Researchers harness a process found in the immune systems of bacteria to replace, remove, or rearrange sequences of DNA and change the way genes function.